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Cradock is a town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, in the upper valley of the Great Fish River, 250 kilometres (160 mi) by road northeast of Port Elizabeth. The town is the administrative seat of the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality in the Chris Hani District of the Eastern Cape. The estimated population in 2015 was 35,000.

Cradock is located in Eastern Cape
Cradock is located in South Africa
Cradock is located in Africa
 Cradock shown within Eastern Cape
Coordinates: 32°10′14″S 25°37′0″E / 32.17056°S 25.61667°E / -32.17056; 25.61667Coordinates: 32°10′14″S 25°37′0″E / 32.17056°S 25.61667°E / -32.17056; 25.61667
Country South Africa
Province Eastern Cape
District Chris Hani
Municipality Inxuba Yethemba
Established 1816[1]
 • Total 125.96 km2 (48.63 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 36,671
 • Density 290/km2 (750/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • Black African 61.8%
 • Coloured 25.4%
 • Indian/Asian 0.4%
 • White 11.8%
 • Other 0.5%
First languages (2011)[2]
 • Xhosa 55.9%
 • Afrikaans 38.2%
 • English 3.5%
 • Other 2.4%
Postal code (street) 5880
PO box 5880
Area code 048


Pre-colonial historyEdit

For thousands of years San hunter-gatherers were the sole human inhabitants of southern Africa. About 2000 years BP the semi-nomadic Khoikhoi (or Khoekhoen or Khoikhoin) arrived with cattle, sheep and goats. These pastoralists migrated south towards the coast. Rock paintings and petroglyphs (engravings) remain as evidence of the first people who lived here.

By the 4th century AD Bantu-speaking people had begun to migrate from central Africa down the east coast into southern Africa. The amaXhosa pressed further south to the banks of the Great Fish River where they met San hunter-gatherers and Khoikhoi pastoralists, and later still Dutch and then British settlers.

Colonial historyEdit

The district of which Cradock is now the centre was first settled by Dutch farmers in the late 18th century, but was known long before to the hunters who illicitly crossed the frontier in search of game and ivory.

The first official Dutch expedition to the upper Great Fish River was in mid-1752 when a party led by Ensign August Frederik Beutler visited the area. Beutler, following the instructions of Governor Ryk Tulbagh to investigate the possibilities of developing the Cape's eastern regions, was accompanied by a number of other officials including a diarist, Carl Haupt, and a surveyor, Carl Wentzel, who drew a map of the route taken. Almost the only mention made about the area in the diary was that it was very dry and forage was unobtainable.

Forty five years later traveller Sir John Barrow crossed the Great Fish River. At his crossing point he noted on his map the existence beside the river of "Hepatic wells" - sulphur springs. In later years the springs were to be used for wool washing and the town's laundry.

After the 1811-12 Xhosa War, it became apparent that to maintain order along the frontier more administrative and military posts would have to be established along the Great Fish River. The district of Graaff-Reinet was too large to administer properly and the town itself too far from the river, so it was decided to set up a new sub-drostdy, and in June 1812 Ensign Andries Stockenstrom was appointed deputy landdrost. Piet van Heerden's farm Buffels Kloof beside the Great Fish River was bought for 3 500 rix dollars. One of the advantages of the purchase was that Van Heerden's stone-walled house farmhouse could serve as a prison, the first and apparently most important requirement of any town. The house also provided accommodation for a constable and two policemen.

The official proclamation appeared in the Cape Town Gazette on 21 January 1814. Sir John Cradock sanctioned an expenditure of 12 000 rixdollars on public buildings and work began at once on a house for the deputy landdrost. In addition he was allowed a farm to "render his positionas comfortable and respectable as possible". The farm chosen was Driefontein, that of Piet van Heerden's brother, W J van Heerden.

In July 1817 the Reverend John Evans was appointed as first minister and he set about raising funds for a church. With minister, deputy landdrost, constable and policmen, the inhabitants could consider their tiny village well on the way to being a "town".[3]

In the 1830s the Great Trek began, as Afrikaners who were discontent with British rule left en masse for the interior. Most of the migration departed from (and via) the area around Cradock.[4]

The Cape Colony received a degree of independence in 1872 when "Responsible Government" was declared and, in 1877, the government of Prime Minister John Molteno sanctioned construction of a railway line connecting Port Elizabeth on the coast with the hinterland. Passing as it did through Cradock it led to significant growth and economic development in and around the town.[5][6]

In the early 1900s, a boom in demand for ostrich feathers led to a massive rise in prosperity for the local ostrich farmers.[7]

The Cradock FourEdit

The Cradock Four — Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli — were abducted while travelling from Port Elizabeth to Cradock in 1985.[8] They were then taken to an unknown destination, where they were assaulted, killed and their bodies and the vehicle in which they were travelling burnt. Some of these incidents occurred on the night of 27 June 1985 (the night of their abduction) and some of them occurred at a later, unknown time.

Three Security Branch policemen, a Sergeant Faku, Sergeant Mgoduka, and one Sakati who participated in the killing of the activists were later killed in a car bomb blast at Motherwell in 1989.

The Cradock Four Memorial is a monument located in Lingelihle, a township in Cradock, Eastern Cape.[9] The monument was erected on 22 July 2000 in commemoration of the Cradock Four: Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli, four anti-apartheid activists assassinated by the South African Security Police during the height of apartheid in 1985.[10]


Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli became known as 'The Cradock Four' after they were assassinated by the South African Security Police in July 1985 on their way home from Port Elizabeth[11].

Matthew Goniwe was Principal of Lingelihle Secondary School. In 1983 he was the first Chairperson of the Cradock Residents Association (CRADORA), set up primarily to fight rent increases which later led to consumer boycotts of white-owned businesses in Cradock. He was transferred to Graaff-Reinet in November 1983, which he refused, and was thus fired, sparking a school boycott at Lingelihle township in Cradock that lasted 15 months and involved about 7 000 students and residents, demanding his reinstatement. [12]

He was assisted by Fort Calata, a fellow teacher at Lingelihle, who later became Chairperson of the Cradock Youth Association (CRADOYA). He was also one of the founders of the Cradock Residents Association (CRADORA).[13][14]

Sparrow Mkhonto was employed by the department of Railways and Harbours in a depot in Cradock. He was a shop steward and the organiser of workers into progressive unionism. He was a leader of workers within CRAWU (Cradock Workers Union) He was also the Chairperson of the Broad Forum (joint meeting) which consisted of Cradora Executive and leaders of sector organisations.[15] [16]

Sicelo Mhlauli was a teacher and underground struggle activist. He worked with CRADORA privately to ensure the boycotts took place.[17]

thumb|Logo of the United Democratic Front South Africa On 26 March 1983 a magistrate banned all meetings of CRADORA and CRADOYA, which led to [18] CRADORA and CRADOYA affiliating into the United Democratic Front Eastern Cape branch. This movement was met with a lot of resistance from the government.

The AssassinationEdit

On 27 June 1985, Goniwe made telephonic plans to attend a political meeting in Port Elizabeth later that day. The secret police were listening in on the conversation, and this information allowed them to plan the ambush of Goniwe and his comrades. That morning, Goniwe left for Port Elizabeth (about 250km from Cradock). With him were Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli.

After the meeting, the four men left for Cradock just after 9pm. Six Special Branch members from Port Elizabeth were waiting at Olifantskop Pass and followed them down into the Karoo flats. Just before Middleton, the two police cars overtook Goniwe and his comrades and set up a roadblock. The men were ordered out of the car, handcuffed, driven to Bluewater Bay in Port Elizabeth and killed.

Over the next few days the badly burnt and mutilated bodies of the Cradock Four, as they came to be known, were found in different areas around Port Elizabeth.[19] [20]

The Cradock Four died on 27 June 1985 and were buried under the Communist Party flag in Cradock on 21 July 1985. [21]

Garden of remembranceEdit

A large Cradock Four Memorial Garden has been built on a hill overlooking Lingelihle.[22]It consists of four tall concrete pillars with the names of the Cradock Four written on each pillar.[23] Tourists can get access to this memorial and the guide from the Vusubuntu Info Centre at the entrance to the township.

Mary NgaloEdit

Mary Ngalo was an anti-apartheid politician and was also active in fighting for women's rights.

Mary Mageret Ngalo was born in Cradock, Eastern Cape. She was the daughter of Torn and Leah Plaaitjie. She met and married Zenzile Ngalo in Cradock. [24]

She started participating in politics at an early age. She joined the ANC Youth League. As a leader of women in Cradock, she was elected as the branch secretary of the ANC Women's League. She held her post till she fled Cradock in 1961. She mobilised hundreds of women to join the Federation of South African Women which was a non-racial body of women who fought in the struggle against Apartheid. The ANC Women's League launched the Beer Hall Boycott in Cradock. Ngalo encouraged men to use the money they earned on their families instead of the beerhalls. She was arrested in 1957 during the boycott with her baby son. They spent one month in prison. During the 1960 State of Emergency, she was forced into hiding in Port Elizabeth. Her husband and other ANC militants from Cradock including Eric Vora and Lennon Melane were imprisoned in Port Elizabeth in the 1960's. Zenzile Ngalo later escaped South Africa. The ANC Women's League organised for her to flee with her 3 children due to increased police persecution. She met her husband in Tanzania where he was an official. In Tanzania, she was elected secretary of the ANC's Women's section Bureau in Tanzania, which was an external arm of the ANC Women's League. She worked alongside Ruth Mompati, Edna Mgabaza and Florence Mophosho. [25][26] [27] Mary and Zenzile Ngalo were transferred by the ANC to Cairo, Egypt. In 1968 Mary Ngalo was appointed to the Women's Bureau of the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO). She attended the 5th conference of AAPSO in Cairo in January 1972 as well as the 10th anniversary of the All Africa Women's Conference in Dar-es-Salaam in 1972. She played an active role in this organisation till her sudden death in Cairo on 16 march 1973. Her mother still lived in Cradock at her death. [28][29] [30][31]

Economy and tourismEdit

Cradock is one of the Cape's chief centres of the wool industry, and also produces beef, dairy, fruit, lucerne, and mohair.

Of enormous importance to the economic development of Cradock was the construction of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel. Completed in 1975 and 83 km (52 mi) in length it diverts water from the Gariep Dam on the Orange River to the Great Fish River and then on as far as the Addo Valley, Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth for irrigation, household and industrial use.

The construction of the tunnel also made possible the annual Fish River Canoe Marathon. From humble beginnings in 1982 the two-day, 80 km (50 mi) event now attracts in excess of 1 500 paddlers from around the world.

A notable attraction is the Mountain Zebra National Park just 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the town, where the once-endangered zebra species together with lion, cheetah, buffalo and a range of antelope species are to be seen in magnificent surroundings.

Notable attractions in the town are the "tuishuise" (at-home houses), superbly restored Victorian era craftsmen's houses in Market Street which form part of the Victoria Manor Hotel; the Dutch Reformed Moederkerk which dates back to 1868 and was designed after the style of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London; and Schreiner House where the renowned author of The Story of an African Farm lived as a young girl. The house, which is located at 9 Cross Street and is a satellite of the National English Literary Museum, contains a modern set of exhibitions portraying the life of Olive Schreiner.

Notable peopleEdit

Coat of armsEdit

Municipality — Cradock was established as a municipality in 1840. By 1902, the town council had assumed a coat of arms.[32][33] The arms were formally granted by the provincial administrator in May 1966[34] and registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in September 1969.

The arms were : Quarterly: I, Argent, a tree Vert; II, Gules, a beehive, Or; III, Gules, a fleece Or; IV, Azure, a garb Or. In layman's terms, this means that the shield was divided into four quarters displaying (1) a green tree on a silver background, (2) a golden beehive on a red background, (3) a golden fleece on a red background, and (4) a golden wheatsheaf on a blue background.[35]

Until 1966, the shield was flanked by two ostrich feathers. They were replaced with two mountain zebras, as supporters. The crest was a cornucopia and the motto was Perseverantia vincit.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20–26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Main Place Cradock". Census 2011. 
  3. ^ Logie, Bartle; Snaddon, Ann (2006). Water in the wilderness. Bluecliff. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Burman, Jose (1984). Early railways at the Cape. Human & Rousseau. p. 73. 
  6. ^ Schoeman, Chris (2013). The Historical Karoo: Traces of the Past in South Africa's Arid Interior. Penguin Random House South Africa. p. 117. 
  7. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ African National Congress (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) Sechaba, Vol. 3, No. 3. Periodacals Journal. 1973. South Africa. Digital Imaging South Africa (DISA) Accessed 22 July 2017
  25. ^ Accessed 22 July 2017
  26. ^ African National Congress (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) Sechaba, Vol. 3, No. 3. Periodacals Journal. 1973. South Africa. Digital Imaging South Africa (DISA) Accessed 22 July 2017
  27. ^ Accessed 22 July 2017
  28. ^ South African Democracy Education Trust. The Road to Democracy in South Africa:1960-1970. Zebra 2004. pg 470
  29. ^ Accessed 22 July 2017
  30. ^ Women Marching into the 21st Century:Wathint'abafazi, Wathint'Imbokodo. HSRC Press, 2000. pg 36-37
  31. ^ African National Congress (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) Sechaba, Vol. 3, No. 3. Periodacals Journal. 1973. South Africa. Digital Imaging South Africa (DISA) Accessed 22 July 2017
  32. ^ The arms were depicted on a medallion issued in 1902.
  33. ^ The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
  34. ^ Cape of Good Hope Official Gazette 3348 (27 May 1966).
  35. ^ "Cradock". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 

See AlsoEdit

External linksEdit